best Niagara Falls boat tours

Embrace the majesty of thundering cascades and ethereal mists as you get up close to North America’s largest waterfall. Niagara Falls boat tours can be enjoyed from both sides of the border, with the most popular excursions being Maid of the Mist in the US, and Hornblower Niagara Cruises in Canada.

Horseshoe Falls is the main attraction, but American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls can also be visited. Read this guide for more information about the best Niagara Falls boat tours.

From the American Side

1. Maid of the Mist Boat Tour

Maid of the Mist Boat Tour

Feel the spray on your face as you head into the swirling mists beneath the plunging waters of Horseshoe Falls. This iconic Niagara Falls boat tour takes place on board the famous Maid of the Mist and lasts 20 adrenaline-filled minutes. It operates between May and October from the New York side of the cascade.

You will be surrounded by dramatic scenery throughout your Niagara Falls cruise thanks to spacious open-air decks. There is no need to jostle for prime viewing positions as this electric catamaran-style boat maneuvers sideways, giving all passengers equal photo opportunities. Complementary rain ponchos are included.

2. Niagara Falls American-Side Tour with Maid of the Mist Boat Ride

Niagara Falls American-Side Tour with Maid of the Mist Boat Ride

Venture to all edges of the waterfalls on this half-day Niagara Falls tour, which includes skip-the-line attraction admission. Take the elevator deep into the gorge and stand just a few exhilarating feet from the cataract beside Cave of the Winds.

Next up is the Prospect Observation Tower – the only place with unobstructed panoramic views of all three falls. The final treat is a 20-minute boat trip to see Niagara Falls, navigating frothy waters and embracing the spray on Maid of the Mist.

Over winter the Maid of the Mist is replaced by the Niagara Legends of Adventure movie, while the cave visit is swapped for entrance to the Niagara Power Vista.

3. Niagara Falls, USA: Canadian Tour & Maid of The Mist

Niagara Falls, USA Canadian Tour & Maid of The Mist

Admire all three waterfalls from the Canadian side of the border on this 5-hour guided tour of Niagara Falls. Set sail on the Maid of the Mist and journey to the heart of Horseshoe Falls, watching in awe as 600,000 gallons of water plunge over the edge every second.

Then cross over into Canada to ascend the Skylon Tower for a birds-eye view of the falls, river, and gorge. Take advantage of scenic photo opportunities at key viewing points like Table Rock and Terrapin Point.

During winter the Maid of the Mist tour is replaced with admission to Journey Behind the Falls.

4. Niagara Falls Tour of American and Canadian sides with boat tour

Niagara Falls Tour of American and Canadian sides with boat tour

Bag two countries in one day on this guided Niagara Falls small group tour. Begin your 6-7 hour adventure on board Maid of the Mist for an intimate encounter with Horseshoe Falls. Feel the sheer power of the cascade inside Cave of the Winds, where the plunging curtain of water is almost at your fingertips.

There are scenic stops at Luna Island, Bridal Veil Falls, Goat Island, and Table Rock, so keep your camera handy. Scale the lofty heights of the Skylon and Niagara Falls Observation Towers, where your reward is unrivaled aerial panoramas of the gorge and falls.

Out of season, a viewing of Niagara Legends of Adventure and a gorge walk replace Maid of the Mist and Cave of the Winds.

5. Niagara Falls, USA: Illumination Tour with Maid of the Mist

Niagara Falls, USA Illumination Tour with Maid of the Mist

See Niagara Falls in a whole new light with this spectacular evening illumination show. Get your camera ready to capture laser and firework reflections dancing on the water, against a magnificent night-time backdrop of the twinkling city skyline.

This 4.5-5 hour excursion includes a Niagara Falls boat tour on Maid of the Mist, and a visit to the Cave of the Winds where you will be surrounded by the thunderous roar of water. Take photos of dramatic vistas from key viewing points along the edge of the gorge and learn about the daredevils who have tried to conquer the falls.

6. Niagara Falls, USA: Maid of the Mist Boat Cruise & Guided Walking Tour

Niagara Falls, USA Maid of the Mist Boat Cruise & Guided Walking Tour

Lace up your boots and get ready to explore the US side of the falls on this combined walking and boating adventure. The hour-long Niagara Falls walking tour treats you to some of the best viewpoints overlooking American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls. It can be extended to 1.5 hours to include Horseshoe Falls.

Your expert guide will spill the beans about the intriguing history and geography of the cascade in an intimate, small group setting.

A Niagara Falls boat tour on Maid of the Mist is included in summer, or admission to the Niagara Falls video experience during winter.

From the Canadian Side

7. Hornblower’s Voyage to the Falls Boat Tours

Hornblower's Voyage to the Falls Boat Tours

Hop on board the iconic Hornblower boat for a thrilling 20-minute voyage where getting soaked by the thundering falls is all part of this unforgettable adventure. The open deck means there will be show-stopping views of Horseshoe Falls from every angle – making sure you do not miss a moment of this wild natural spectacle.

This easy there and back Niagara Falls boat tour is quick and hassle-free. It is a great way to get up close and personal with one of North America’s most popular visitor attractions. Complimentary ponchos are included to help keep you dry in the mist.

8. Niagara Falls Canadian Side Tour and Maid of the Mist Boat Ride

Niagara Falls Canadian Side Tour and Maid of the Mist Boat Ride

Allow yourself to be whisked away from your Ontario or New York hotel and transported high above the falls to the top of the iconic Skylon Tower. The views here are the best in town. Photo stops at Three Sisters Island, the Niagara Whirlpool, Queen Victoria Park, and Table Rock are also included.

Then pop over the border for a Niagara Falls boat tour on Maid of the Mist which will put you center stage in front of the pounding Horseshoe Falls.

Out of season, the boat ride is replaced by a thrilling Journey Behind the Falls excursion where you will stand in the mist to experience the thundering watery rush.

9. Half-Day Canadian Side Sightseeing Tour of Niagara Falls with Hornblower Cruise

Half-Day Canadian Side Sightseeing Tour of Niagara Falls with Hornblower Cruise

Sail through the great gorge on your Hornblower Niagara Falls boat tour, straight into the misty jaws of Horseshoe Falls. Back on dry land, keep the poncho on and take the elevator 45 meters down through the bedrock. Then follow the tunnels leading to Journey Behind the Falls.

Standing on the observation decks and feeling the sheer power of the water as it tumbles down from high above is something you will never forget.

Scenic stops at the Giant Whirlpool, Table Rock, the Skylon Tower, the Floral Clock, and Queenston Heights Park are also included on this small group tour.

10. Niagara Falls in One Day: Deluxe Sightseeing Tour of American and Canadian Sides

Niagara Falls in One Day Deluxe Sightseeing Tour of American and Canadian Sides

Struggling to choose between the Canadian and American sides of the falls? Then why not do both. This Niagara Falls day tour incorporates all the best attractions and viewing points, including Goat Island, Bridal Veil Falls, Three Sisters Island, and of course the Niagara Gorge.

Take an exhilarating Niagara Falls boat tour on Maid of the Mist, then venture by foot to Cave of the Winds for an intimate encounter with Horseshoe Falls. To commemorate your day, take aerial snaps from the lofty heights of the Skylon and Prospect Point Park Observation Towers.

During winter the Maid of the Mist and Cave of the Winds are replaced by Journey Behind the Falls and a visit to The World Stopped Here Pavilion.

11. Niagara Falls Canada: Night Lights Tour with Dinner & Cruise

Niagara Falls Canada Night Lights Tour with Dinner & Cruise

Enjoy a night out with a difference at Niagara Falls on this special 4-hour dinner and cruise tour. First up is an early evening Horseshoe Falls jaunt on the Hornblower, riding the waves and marveling as the water all around you changes color before your eyes.

Then take your seats at Table Rock Restaurant for a well-earned 3-course meal, which comes with a generous side serving of spectacular waterfall views. After polishing off dessert, head over to the Illumination Tower for a chance to control the lights yourself using touch screen computers. You will also receive a commemorative certificate.

12. Private Tour of Niagara Falls with Hornblower Boat Cruise

Private Tour of Niagara Falls with Hornblower Boat Cruise

Design your own itinerary on this exclusive half-day Niagara Falls boat tour, with help from your personal driver-guide who will share local insights not included on standard excursions. You might choose to explore Niagara-on-the-Lake, the Skylon Tower, and the Whirlpool Rapids, before hopping on the Hornblower for an adventure to the heart of Horseshoe Falls.

There is no set schedule on your private Niagara Falls day tour. You decide how long to spend at each destination. Depending on group size, you will be chauffeured around in an executive car, luxury van or minibus, with hotel pick-up and drop-off included.

13. Niagara Falls, Canada: Helicopter Tour & Boat Ride

Niagara Falls, Canada Helicopter Tour & Boat Ride

Soar above the falls during an exhilarating 12-minute helicopter ride, flying directly over the cascades and whirlpool rapids for the ultimate birds-eye perspective. Then voyage into the heart of the spray on a Hornblower Niagara Falls boat tour. During winter the boat excursion is swapped for the Butterfly Conservatory and multisensory Niagara’s Fury film.

Head skywards again, this time for lunch with a view at the Skylon Tower Summit Suite Buffet. Your final stop is Journey Behind the Falls for a closer look at the mighty Horseshoe cataract. This 5-6 hour small group tour has a maximum of 7 participants.

From Niagara-on-the-Lake

14. Niagara River Whirlpool Jet Boat Tour

Niagara River Whirlpool Jet Boat Tour

Pull on your life jacket and strap in for a wet and wild ride on this adrenaline-fueled Niagara jet boat tour. Prepare for a soaking as you bounce along the dramatic Niagara River and plunge through the rapids in a state-of-the-art open-topped speedboat. If you prefer to stay dry, a covered boat is available too.

The icing on the cake is the thrill of navigating Devil’s Hole, where churning waters battle for supremacy in the rocky gorge. This Niagara Falls boat tour includes a short safety briefing, with the ride itself lasting 45 minutes. A change of clothes is recommended.

Boat tours are one of the most fun things to do in Niagara Falls and the most popular tours in Niagara Falls.

If you are visiting multiple cities in Canada or the United States, you might be interested in the day trips from Toronto to Niagara Falls or the tours to Niagara Falls from New York City.